Oloron-Saint-Marie Multimedia Centre

Check out this restoration project by Pascale Guédot and Michel Corajoud which transforms an industrial factory into a Multimedia Center. Situated in Oloron Saint Marie, the site is part of a larger urban renewal project intended to reconnect the abandoned site to the center of the city and infuse a new spirit into the building while reclaiming the site’s natural setting. The blurb on Arch Daily doesn’t actually state whether or not the architects restored or re-engineered the turbine technology to allow the building to generate its own power. I became aware of the micro-generation capacity of France’s early hydro-architecture when visiting France in 2009, when I stayed in a 19th century millhouse in the Dordogne region of southern France that once did just that….

This beautiful former jewellery factory, (see below) now yoga and meditation centre, originally generated its own hydropower as well as acting as flood control for the surrounding farm land. Water flows could be channelled to move solely through the turbine gate in low flow. With higher flows the overflow would move across a weir and rejoin the main river flow. In times of very high water the building could open a flood gate that allowed for water to flow directly under the house through a pipe and out the other side to a flood channel. I was amazed at this relatively small building’s ability to organise the distribution of water around the surrounding landscape, to contribute towards both power generation and irrigation.

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